We last examined the total insanity of New York City progressivism back on April 23, with a post titled “Mayor de Blasio Sets Out To Accelerate New York City’s Decline.” The particular focus of that post was a proposal from our Mayor to impose onerous efficiency standards on office buildings as the latest progressive idea to “save the planet” from the scourge of climate change. If you thought that that proposal just had to represent the ultimate low point of progressive craziness, and that it couldn’t possibly go any lower, then you just haven’t been paying attention. In the last few weeks, the new emergency rules and bans that must be imposed immediately by government to save the world have been coming ever faster and faster. You almost can’t learn about one before the next one is upon you, each one somehow more urgent in the case made for it, more burdensome in its application to the citizenry, and yet even more trivial in potential effect (if any at all) on the planet or the environment or whatever it is we are trying to “save.”
First up, the package of six bills covered in that April post, going by the collective name of the “Climate Mobilization Act,” promptly passed the City Council and became law. The CurbedNY website provided a summary of the bills on April 22, including this gem:
Come 2024, the legislation mandates landlords move toward cutting their building emissions 40 percent by 2030, and would put the city on a path toward reducing its carbon emissions by a whopping 80 percent by 2050.
Of course, the new law puts the steepest burdens on the buildings that are already the most efficient (e.g., modern skyscrapers), while exempting huge categories of buildings that are the least efficient (e.g., City buildings, low income public housing, rent regulated apartment buildings, single family houses). Some City Council members took the occasion to make totally delusional statements about what they think will be the effect of their handiwork. For example, one of the prime sponsors was a guy named Costa Constantinides from Astoria, Queens. His comment:
“There are talks about the Rockaways, Coney Island, and neighborhoods in Staten Island literally being wiped off the map by the end of this century if we do not act,” said [Constantinides]. . . . “No single-handed policy can completely reverse the effects of climate change, but this policy, when enacted, will be the largest emissions reduction policy in the history of New York City or any city anywhere.”
Or this from City Council Speaker (and my own representative) Corey Johnson:
“Our planet is closing in on a breaking point … we have to transition from investing in fossil fuel infrastructure to clean, renewable energy,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said during the vote. “We have to act decisively and we have to act now.”
Do these numbskulls actually think that by upgrading the energy efficiency of a few office buildings in New York they can somehow affect the level of the oceans? Somebody ought to tell them that New York City is only 0.1% of the world’s population; or perhaps that third world countries including China, India and countries of Africa are in the process of planning and building 1600 new coal power plants that in the aggregate will have emissions some hundreds of times any “savings” that can be squeezed out of New York office buildings; or that (to take just one example) Brazil (about 25 times the population of New York City) is in the process of ceasing all efforts at greenhouse gas reductions. Yes, the Climate Mobilization Act is the classic “really futile and stupid gesture” straight out of Animal House.
But then, this is New York, so I bet that we can come up with some gestures that are even more futile and even more stupid. How about something completely trivial, totally unlikely to have any meaningful effect on the environment let alone “climate change,” and yet sure to inconvenience and annoy absolutely everybody? I’m talking now, of course, about a ban on single-use plastic bags. That one seems to have gotten snuck into the New York State budget package that also got passed in April. It takes effect in a year. Oh, and they also threw into that new law an “organics mandate,” requiring “any establishment that generates more than two tons of food waste per week [to] separate material for donation and arrange for inedible scraps to be taken to an organics recycler within 25 miles.” It’s mandatory composting! Surely, that one will save the planet. It takes effect in 2022. Can anybody explain why “composting” of organic food scraps is actually better for the environment that just throwing them into a landfill (where they decay through the action of microbes in the exact same way)?
Give our state another couple of weeks, and on May 15 it was time for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to deny a permit for a new natural gas pipeline. This one was proposed to run under New York harbor, to bring gas from New Jersey (originally “fracked” in Pennsylvania) over to Long Island. The stated ground for the denial was that the pipeline might “fail[ ] to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards” by stirring up chemicals in the sediments on the ocean floor during the construction process, or something like that. Nobody mentioned that there is another nearly identical pipeline following a nearly identical route already in place, but it is at full capacity. The utility hoping to be on the receiving end of the pipeline, National Grid, says that without the additional gas it will soon have to stop allowing new hookups to its gas system in Long Island and parts of New York City (e.g., Queens). So if you want to build a new house on Long Island, you will just have to figure out how to heat it using wind turbines. Good luck with that. Or more likely, you will bring some oil across the George Washington Bridge in big environmentally-friendly tanker trucks. Exactly why environmentalists are really big into blocking construction of natural gas pipelines is beyond me. The only explanation I can come up with is the same: “really futile and stupid gesture.”
And finally, we have one not yet enacted, but seemingly on the greased skids: a ban on the sale of products made from animal furs. The prime backer is Council Speaker Johnson. New York City was actually founded in the early 1600s principally as a fur-trading post. Today, there continues to be a real fur manufacturing industry in the city. According to the New York Times on May 16, there are about 150 companies and 1100 jobs on the line. They will be roadkill.
It’s a weird morality where fur is an ultimate sin but meat is OK (for now); plastic bags are an ultimate sin but plastic water bottles are OK (for now); natural gas pipelines are an ultimate sin but oil tank trucks are OK (for now); some more efficient buildings are ultimate sins but other less efficient buildings are OK (for now). Seemingly every day they swoop in to declare something new an ultimate sin. All ultimate sins must immediately be banned by the coercive force of government. Is there any element of your lifestyle that is not on the road to shortly becoming part of the ultimate sin?
It has to be that at some point, some of this will start affecting people in a way they will notice, and they will wake up to see the craziness of the people they have put in charge.